This week, I rode a fully-electric public transit bus for the first time.
My area is blessed with a modest and fine transit system which I've enjoyed for decades. The drivers are friendly, the buses prompt, the routes comprehensive, and they required face coverings and distancing during the pandemic while providing free transportation for everyone.
I hadn't realized I was on a fully-electric bus until station departure time. Even with in-ear heaphones, the feeling was so strange that I took them out – I was so accustomed to hearing that sound of a furious, growing combustion engine that its presence would have been a fraction as jarring as its absence. And then we were off. Few differences could have been more perceptible; it felt almost as though these tons of mechanics were floating along the road by magic. I had fretted that I hadn't brought my even heavier-dury noise-cancelling headphones for this trip, and suddenly that didn't matter.
I've witnessed many changes to the status quo, but this one feels more like a change than possibly any.
The greenhouse-like effect from human-driven gas emissions is thankfully a subject of active conversation in current media and culture. Practically everyone who really studies it has said it's too little, too late, and the consequences to be felt on the planet's surface (including its non-human species with no blame for them), are largely before us. My optimism lies in my imagined status quo for the future, when the sound and filth of combustion engines are so alien that people will gawk with incredulity to learn a past society apathetically tolerated, if not clung to, roads crawling with them like ants through bustling anthills. Like cassettes to digital audio, they'll be remembered and even appreciated for their charm, which was real as anything perceived, but by and large, humanity will find it can't go back.